INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - April 7, 2005
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Hey,
once again there is lots of progress to report at 'my' house. All the
rooms have been painted, including the foyer, and the children's bedroom
is completely wallpapered and is beautiful! Keith and John have been wallpapering
the master bedroom and Keith has glazed the woodwork. Those two have put
a special finishing touch on Col. Ben's house! And, of course, The Paint
Crew is great to watch. They do so much and move so fast that I am sure
to keep out of their way!
Henry here is ready to tell you a story about Theophillus Smith and Hooper
Warren and how some political disagreements were handled in early Edwardsville.
But, let me fill you in with some background first.
You all might just recall that there was a big question about slavery
for many a year in our country. There were those who wanted slavery in
new state of Illinois and others who did not. Hooper Warren did not agree
with slavery. "The Spectator", printed in Edwardsville by editor
and owner Hooper Warren, was the most influential, widely read newspaper
this side of the Allegheny Mountains in from 1819 to1826. It was a very
loud voice again slavery coming from Edwardsville.
Now, there were men who owned indentured servants. These people had previously
been known as slaves but new laws were passed and the new name was indentured
servants which meant the 'servant' had agreed to serve their owner for
a certain number years and then they would be given their freedom. That
is the way it was. The men in Edwardsville who owned indentured slaves
included Joseph Conway, Benjamin Stephenson, Ninian Edwards, John McKee,
John Todd and Nathaniel Buckmaster.
Well, Great-great-grandpappy Ezra never, ever mentioned slaves or indentured
servants in his stories. Ol' Henry and Cousin Jake learned about all this
during my visit to Lower Town recently and we did a lot of reminiscing.
We remembered some of Ezra's stories about how happy Hark was when he
would get a new store-bought shirt from Miss Lucy. And, Ezra told about
Dottie who would dance around in the new shows that Miss Lucy bought from
Isaac Prickett's store. Cousin Jake and Ol' Henry think we didn't remember
or pay attention to those stories because we could not figure out who
Hark and Dottie were. Henry here now remembers Joe and Sid talking about
the probate records and the bills for clothing and medicine for Col. Ben's
indentured servants. It seems they did mention the names Hark and Dottie.
Actually, Cousin Jake and his buddies in Lower Town really had a lot of
discussions about the long-ago slavery question. There were two sides
and the Stephenson House mouse relatives know very little from Great-great-grandpappy
Ezra. The few stories passed down show that Col. Ben and Lucy took very
good care of their indentured servants. We were happy to hear that and
we decided to drop the talk. I am just a mouse ya' know.
Now to the Warren and Smith story. Hooper Warren owned "The Spectator"
an anti-slavery newspaper and Theophillus Smith owned the 'Illinois Republican"
a pro-slavery newspaper. As you can expect, this created heated political
discussions altercations often occurred.
The story goes that one day Theophillus Smith appeared at Warren's office
armed with a dirk, that is a dagger, and a whip. He was prepared to do
harm to Warren. Smith saw that Warren was armed with a pistol and he retreated
from the office. Emmanuel J. West happened to be waiting and he convinced
Smith to return to Warren's office where West attempted to be peacemaker
between the two newspapermen. Warren said Smith could come in the office
if he would behave. Smith agreed to behave and then the two men attempted
to get each other to write an acknowledgement that the other had no personal
knowledge of anything derogatory to his character. The problem was who
would go first!
Before this attempt to make written peace with each other, Smith and Warren
had made a mutual surrender of arms at the urging of Mr. West. Well, as
Warren was writing Smith got to Warren's pistol and emptied the powder
out of the priming pin.
Hooper Warren then refused to make peace. Theophillus Smith, knowing Warren
had no weapon, went after him with his whip and dirk. Emmanuel J. West
prevented any injury to either man. Wow! Politics in 1824 Edwardsville!
A lively little story about Hooper Warren and Theophillus Smith! Henry
here now understands why great-great-grandpappy Ezra's stories about politics
were few and far between.
The sun has been shining and the tulips are coming up. The herbs are turning
green and growing. I am headed outside to see what else has made its appearance
in 'my' yard. I heard Carol and Jim talking about planting some roses
just like the ones that were around in 1790' and 1820s. It will be fun
to see what they look like.
See ya' later,